Vacant Lot Greening

Vacant lots present an opportunity to redefine and reclaim spaces to create safe and thriving communities. Maintaining and greening vacant lots creates inviting spaces that can address environmental issues and increase access to healthy food. Greened lots can boost residents’ access to green space, with all of the associated mental and physical health benefits. Reclaimed vacant land can also improve a community’s sense of identity and strengthen the social fabric of neighborhoods.


Every community’s local context is unique – with varying resources, partnerships, and legal context-requiring tailored, locally relevant solutions. Though local context determines how these factors present themselves, our research identified several universal key components that advance the efficiency, responsiveness and long-term sustainability of greening programs. These components include:

  • Resident Engagement
  • Partnerships
  • Planning
  • Land Access & Acquisition
  • Dedicated Capacity
  • Sustainable Funding

The Keys to Success Guide details these components, highlights why they are important to vacant lot greening, and provides practitioner insights to support their implementation. While each Key is important on its own, the scale of success will ultimately require robust implementation of all.

While many of these findings may feel like common sense to practitioners, this study was one of the first efforts to rigorously and scientifically document what makes greening programs successful. This guide provides scientific evidence that validates decades of resident and practitioner experience and learned expertise.

Our hope is that this guide informs individuals, organizations, and decision makers about the essential aspects of vacant lot greening and helps them to implement more strategic and successful projects and programs.

The Keys to Success Guide is a companion product to America’s Vacant Lot Landscape: Insights from the National Survey on Greening, which can be found at

front page of greening guide